President Joe Biden on Saturday approved a major disaster declaration for Texas following the winter storm that left residents without power and thousands fighting bursting pipes and water leaks.
The declaration allows homeowners and renters in 77 counties that have been designated for individual assistance to apply for disaster assistance through the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
"The funds provided under the Major Disaster Declaration may provide crucial assistance to Texans as they begin to repair their homes and address property damage," Gov. Greg Abbott said in a written statement.
To apply for assistance online, visit disasterassistance.gov. To do so over the phone, call 800-621-3362 (TTY: 800-462-7585). The lines will be in operation seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
According to FEMA, people who have insurance who are applying for disaster assistance must also file a claim with their insurance company as soon as possible. FEMA cannot duplicate benefits for losses that are already covered by insurance, but uncovered damage may be eligible for federal aid.
As soon as is safe, FEMA recommends people begin cleanup and repairs now to prevent further damage. Take photos to document damage and save receipts from all purchases related to the process.
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Before calling FEMA, residents should be prepared with a current phone number address at the time of the disaster and current address, social security number if available, a general list of damage and losses and an insurance policy number or the agent and company name if they are insured.
Financial assistance for temporary lodging and home repairs, low-interest loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs may be included in the disaster assistance.
For information U.S. Small Business Administration is also offering businesses, homeowners and renters low-interest disaster loans. More information may be found by calling 1-800-659-2955 (TTY: 800-877-8339) or visit sba.gov/services/disasterassistance.
The declaration covers the following 77 counties: Angelina, Aransas, Bastrop, Bee, Bell, Bexar, Blanco, Brazoria, Brazos, Brown, Burleson, Caldwell, Calhoun, Cameron, Chambers, Collin, Comal, Comanche, Cooke, Coryell, Dallas, Denton, DeWitt, Ellis, Falls, Fort Bend, Galveston, Gillespie, Grimes, Guadalupe, Hardin, Harris, Hays, Henderson, Hidalgo, Hood, Jasper, Jefferson, Johnson, Kaufman, Kendall, Lavaca, Liberty, Madison, Matagorda, Maverick, McLennan, Montague, Montgomery, Nacogdoches, Nueces, Orange, Palo Pinto, Panola, Parker, Polk, Rockwall, Sabine, San Jacinto, San Patricio, Scurry, Shelby, Smith, Stephens, Tarrant, Travis, Tyler, Upshur, Van Zandt, Victoria, Walker, Waller, Wharton, Wichita, Williamson, Wilson, and Wise.
The major disaster declaration does not cover all of the state's 254 counties. Texas Division of Emergency Management Director Nim Kidd said that Texans should fill out the state's damage assessment report, which will be used with the goal of securing more federal relief.